Source: The Mercury, 27 November, 1998, p.12

Broken homes, broke kids

Social Affairs Writer 
ONE in eight children 
are living in poverty and 
Australia's soaring rate 
of marriage breakdown 
is to blame in most cases, 
a new study has found. 
There are about 612,000 
dependent children living in 
poverty with either a sole 
parent, usually their mother, 
or with one or both of their 
parents unemployed. 
The study by the National 
Centre for Economic Model- 
ling at the University of 
Canberra, released yester- 
day found one quarter of 
children living in poverty 
were aged under five years. 
One of the authors of A 
Portrait of Child Poverty in 
Australia in 1995-96, Pro- 
fessor Ann Harding, said 
three quarters of dependent 
children living in poverty 
were aged under 13 years. 
More than half of the chil- 
dren lived in families which 
relied on government social 
security benefits such as the 
dole or the sole parents' 
The study said most chil- 
dren in poverty still lived 
with both parents but the 
parents were among the 
"working poor", earning less 
than $10 an hour or working 
few hours a week. 
"But the risk of being in 
poverty is very much greater 
if their mother - or less 
often, their father-is a sole 
parent," the study said. 
"In three quarters of such 
cases they come from a for- 
merly intact family, and 
their mother or father is now 
separated or divorced. 
"Only one in every 20 
children in poverty lives with 
a never-married parent." 
Children who lived in in- 
tact families faced only half 
the risk of poverty compared 
with children in broken mar- 
riages or partnerships. 
Whereas once families had 
more than three children 
their risk of poverty in- 
creased sharply.

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